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Punjab and Chandigarh Gear Up for Crucial Lok Sabha Elections

The BJP and Shiromani Akali Dal are contesting the Lok Sabha polls on their own for the first time since 1996 while two INDIA bloc parties - the Congress and AAP have fielded their own candidates.

By Newsd
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Lok Sabha Elections Phase 5
Lok Sabha Elections Phase 5

Polling for 13 Lok Sabha constituencies in Punjab and the lone Chandigarh seat will be held on Saturday, with INDIA bloc allies Congress and AAP contesting separately and the SAD and BJP also deciding to test the poll waters alone. Prominent candidates in the fray are four-time MP Preneet Kaur, former chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi, three-time MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Ravneet Singh Bittu.

The BJP and Shiromani Akali Dal are contesting the Lok Sabha polls on their own for the first time since 1996 while two INDIA bloc parties – the Congress and AAP have fielded their own candidates.

The Sukhbir Badal-led party walked out of the NDA in 2020 over the now-repealed farm laws.

Besides the Congress, AAP, SAD and the BJP, two other parties –Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) and the Bahujan Samaj Party have also fielded their candidates.

Among the prominent faces, BJP nominee and four-time MP Preneet Kaur is seeking re-election from the Patiala parliamentary constituency.

Three-time MP and SAD’s Harsimrat Kaur Badal and BJP’s Parampal Kaur Sidhu, a former IAS officer, are trying their luck from Bathinda while former CM and Congress candidate Channi and BJP nominee Sushil Rinku are in the fray from Jalandhar reserve constituency.

Former deputy chief minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and BJP candidate Dinesh Babbu are fighting from Gurdaspur.

Punjab Congress chief Amrinder Singh Raja Warring is contesting against BJP’s Ravneet Singh Bittu from Ludhiana.

Radical Sikh preacher Amritpal Singh, who is lodged in Assam’s Dibrugarh jail under the National Security Act, is fighting from Khadoor Sahib while former diplomat and BJP nominee Taranjit Singh Sandhu and Congress candidate Gurjeet Singh Aujla are contesting from Amritsar.

Among its candidates, the AAP has fielded five Cabinet ministers – Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal (Amritsar), Laljit Singh Bhullar (Khadoor Sahib), Gurmeet Singh Khuddian (Bathinda), Gurmeet Singh Meet Hayer (Sangrur) and Balbir Singh (Patiala).

Congress candidate Sukhpal Khaira is contesting from Sangrur while AAP and BJP candidates Karamjit Singh Anmol and Hans Raj Hans are in the fray from Faridkot seat respectively.

Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) chief Simranjit Singh Mann is contesting from Sangrur seat and Sarabjeet Singh Khalsa, who is the son of Beant Singh, one of the two assassins of late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, is contesting from the Faridkot reserve constituency.

A total of 328 candidates, including 26 women, are in the fray in Punjab while in Chandigarh 19 candidates comprising two women, are fighting the poll, officials said.

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In Chandigarh, BJP candidate Sanjay Tandon is pitted against Congress nominee and former union minister Manish Tewari.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the Congress bagged eight of the 13 Lok Sabha seats. The SAD and the BJP, then fighting as allies, won two seats each. The Aam Aadmi Party got just the Sangrur seat then.

Following the Sangrur and Jalandhar bypolls in 2022 and 2023 respectively, the Congress is left with seven seats while the SAD and BJP have two each and AAP and SAD (Amritsar) one each.

For the 13 Lok Sabha seats, a total of 24,451 polling stations have been set up, with 16,517 in villages and 7,934 in cities, according to poll officials.

Polling will be held from 7 am till 6 pm and over 2.14 crore voters are eligible to cast their votes.

In view of the sweltering heat, drinking water, shades, fans, etc will be arranged for voters at polling stations, officials said.

A target of achieving more than 70 percent voter turnout has been set for the Lok Sabha polls in Punjab.

A voter queue information system has been launched this time whereby voters can check the length of queues at their polling booths, they said.

Foolproof security arrangements have been made for the smooth conduct of polls, they said.

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